2 Kings 20:1-7 – Hezekiah's Illness
These verses relate the story of Hezekiah’s deliverance from a terminal illness. While many have speculated upon the exact nature of the “boil” (v. 7), its real significance lies in Hezekiah’s response to the news of his affliction.
In some ways, this text, along with 19:14-34, serves as a frame around Yahweh’s deliverance of Jerusalem in 19:35-37. There, Hezekiah had prayed for the deliverance of the city from the Assyrian threat and the prophet Isaiah had announced that Hezekiah’s prayer had indeed been heard. Here, Hezekiah again prays and God tells Isaiah to announce the good news of Hezekiah’s recovery. Such a structuring invites comparison of the two prayers. It is customary to see Hezekiah’s second prayer as rather self-righteous with its call for Yahweh to remember Hezekiah’s faithful obedience, but this kind of prayer is quite common in the Psalms and there is no need to denigrate Hezekiah’s piety. What we see in his response of turning away from Isaiah to face the wall, his fervent prayer, and his bitter weeping is rather an example of hopeful trust in the power of God to alter the inevitable; and that prayer is answered.
Upon his recovery, Hezekiah is promised another fifteen years of life, during which time God will deliver Jerusalem and its king, not because of Hezekiah’s faithfulness as expressed in the prayer, but, as God says, “for my sake and for the sake of my servant David" (v. 6 NIV).